Wednesday, November 15, 2023

New Zealand’s three ring circus

New Zealand’s three ring circus continues, thought at the moment it seems to be the clown show section. This situation is many things, but the word that first comes to my mind is “hilarious”. Of course.

Incoming Prime-Minister-to-be, National Party Leader Chris Luxon, and hard-right Act Party leader David Seymour have finally met with Winston Peters, leader of the rightwing populist New Zealand First party. It only happened after Luxon and Seymour scurried to Auckland yesterday because Peters decided not to return to Wellington yesterday, as had been assumed/planned. Peters is playing them like a well-tuned violin, as is his way, and it seems unlikely they’ll form a new government any time soon.

Historically, the odds are stacked against the new government going the distance: Peters has never had a successful time in government with National. In the early 1990s, before MMP, he was fired by then-Prime Minister Jim Bolger. Then 61 days after the first MMP election in 1996, Peters went into coalition with National—only to be sacked again when Jenny Shipley rolled Bolger and was briefly PM before losing the 1999 election.

History doesn’t necessarily repeat itself (though Peters completed two different coalitions with Labour), but the past is prologue. Stuff’s Tova O’Brien, who I agree with infrequently, and incompletely when I do, has suggested that Luxon’s inexperience led to him overestimating his ability to negotiate a coalition agreement. That seems likely, since he spent his entire working life in corporate jobs, and had no experience in politics until 2020. Plus, he’d literally never met Peters, without whom he can’t form government. He clearly didn’t understand Peters, either.

Sometime in the next week or two, Luxon and Seymour will find a way to give Peters whatever it is he wants, and Luxon will then spin it to make it sound like it was his own plan all along. And Peters will put on one of his trademark grins, knowing he was the puppeteer.

Gotta say, after watching the circus so far, the odds aren’t looking great that the new government, whenever it finally forms, will make it the entire three years. While the show has been funny to watch, it’s also always interesting how when a new government is trying to form, the country gets along just fine without the politicians. Even though that can’t last, it looks like the lolz will—though possibly not for the entire three years?

No comments: